South Ayrshire Council's collection of artworks, housed at Rozelle House Galleries has been built up around several considerable donations and significant acquisitions.
In 1915 the people of Girvan received two gifts of paintings: A
collection of 17 paintings, came from Richard Edmiston, a Glasgow
auctioneer. All were by Scottish artists and were typical examples
of work produced in the second half of the 19th century, although
there were no examples of work by the most experimental artists
such as the Glasgow Boys. Thomas Davidson donated 25 topographical
studies of the Girvan area by the amateur artist William
Muir. Both bequests are now part of South Ayrshire Council's
Fine Art Collection, housed at Rozelle House Galleries.
Another contribution to what is now South Ayrshire's collection came in 1969 from R. C. Roy. Roy, the youngest son of a family with butcher shops in Glasgow, had an interest in art and among his friends was the artist William Crosbie (1915-2000) and Dr Honeyman of Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Honeyman advised Roy on a few of his earliest art purchases, which included paintings by Samuel J. Peploe (1871-1935). Roy went on to assemble an interesting collection of British and foreign work, including work by his old associate William Crosbie. Retiring to Ayr, he chose to leave his collection to the burgh on his death. It Included portraits of Roy and his wife by the colourist George Leslie Hunter (1879-1931).
In the 1960s David Elder Edward, former Librarian of the Carnegie Public Library in Ayr, left his estate to the Corporation of Ayr. His legacy enabled the development of a collection of art works depicting the town of Ayr and district.
In 1979 South Ayrshire made an important acquisition in the form of Working Model for Draped Reclining Figure by Henry Moore (1898-1986) which was purchased from the artist for display in Rozelle Country Park. Moore took a keen interest in the installation offering a choice of three works and making suggestions as to which works would fit well in the setting. It was a valuable acquisition bringing another Moore sculpture to Scotland where there had been relatively few. There was some local opposition to the purchase but its value was recognised by the Scottish Arts Council, Strathclyde Regional Council, Ayr Arts Guild and the Local Museums Purchase Fund who contributed grant aid.
In 1999, a consortium of three benefactors came together to purchase a series of 54 paintings illustrating Robert Burns' poem Tam o'Shanter by Alexander Goudie. The collection is now housed at Rozelle House Galleries where a proportion of it is always on display.